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Towards a Better Tomorrow?

Panel discussion on ‘Towards a Better Tomorrow? The Crucial Role of Social Science’, held on Tuesday 16 March 2010, 6.30pm-8.00pm (venue: The Royal Society).

Researchers, government and policymakers address how social science research can strengthen its involvement in policymaking, increase its impact and combat potential public expenditure cuts.

While the social science disciplines play a crucial role in contributing to a better quality of life, this remains under­recognised in many circles. Social scientists have an urgent need to demonstrate the value of their research and the power of their expertise – and convince those who constitute our future government about the short­and long­term contribution this makes to addressing the many national and international challenges of our age – exploring the human and social implications of scientific breakthroughs, analysing the consequences of proposed new policy directions and bringing the searchlight of high quality, evidence ­based scrutiny to bear in seeking ways to improve our quality of life.


Chair: Sir Roger Jowell is a Research Professor at City University London and is the Founder Director of its Centre for Comparative Social Surveys. Prior to that he was the Director of the National Centre for Social Research, which he started in 1969 and helped build into Britain’s largest social research institute. He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, an Academician of the Academy for Social Sciences and was awarded a CBE in 2001 for services to social science. He is a recent vice-president of the UK’s Royal Statistical Society and he was knighted for service to social sciences in 2007.

Professor Ian Diamond FBA is Chief Executive of the ESRC, and RCUK Chief Executives’ Champion of Research Careers and Diversity. He is a social statistician who has worked on many aspects of official and social statistics. He becomes Vice­Chancellor of Aberdeen University in the autumn.

Sir Michael Rutter FRS FBA FMedSci is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Previously he was honorary Director of the MRC Child Psychiatry Unit from 1984 to 1994 and honorary Director of the MRC Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry research Centre from 1994 to 1998. Currently he chairs a BA Working Party preparing a report on the contributions of social science to family policy issues.

Professor Harvey Goldstein FBA is Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol. He is a chartered statistician, has been editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, a member of the Society’s Council and was awarded the Society’s Guy medal on silver in 1998. He was elected a member of the International Statistical Institute in 1987, and a fellow of the British Academy in 1996. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University in 2001.

This panel discussion was run in partnership with SAGE, and formed part of the Festival of Social Science, 12–21 March 2010.